Stopping the Dog (Parts 1-3)

Teach your dog to stop well on command, without damaging its confidence.

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Thumbnail image for our Stopping the Dog tutorials video. The sheep are in the training ring, and Andy is walking towards sheepdog Dulcie.

The three completely revised tutorials delve into the thorny issue of getting your dog to stop, in much more detail than the earlier versions. They explain why your dog doesn't want to stop, and what you can do to make it more likely that the dog will heed your stop command.

Thumbnail image for our Stopping the Dog tutorials video part two.

The videos encourage you to look closely at your relationship with your dog, especially the amount of respect the dog has for you as its leader, and whether your actions might be making the dog more excited.

Thumbnail image for our Stopping the Dog tutorials part three

Part three takes a close look at how you can get a good stop on your dog without damaging its confidence.


  1. Hi Andy,
    Making good progress on the stop (working in the pen), and more frequently she is taking a stop without the need to put pressure on her. Working on stops while she flanks the sheep, which is improving.
    One thing I am trying to do is to get her to maintain the stop while I walk back a few paces bringing the sheep with me. I’m trying to walk back far enough so that the sheep will stop, and then ask her to walk up and get the sheep moving again.
    However, just about as soon as I take a step back, she starts to follow.
    Should I insist on another stop, or should I just very slowly try and increase the duration in which she stays stopped.
    After a training session yesterday, I managed about 4 steps back while she remained stopped.
    I think her issue is that not being overly confident at the moment, she is afraid the sheep are going to get away from her.

    Great video’s by the way, it’s nice to know that I’m not the only person who gets tripped up by sheep during training.


    1. It’s good to hear that you’re making progress, Nigel. I suggest you watch “Backwards is the way forward” for help with keeping the dog in place as you walk back. (Watch it again, if you’ve already seen it once). “Tess in the open field“, will also help.
      It can be tiresome, getting the dog to stay in place, but it’s well worth the effort – and yes, it’s a confidence thing. You wait until you try to get the sheep through a gateway (that can be fun)!

      1. Hi Andy,
        Thanks, was just watching the backwards video yesterday.
        Managed two circuits around the inside of the pen and she managed to stay behind the sheep for the complete second lap.
        We’ve experineced going through the gates, absolute carnage the first time, but she is getting better, will try and flank and head the sheep, but I can just about stop her before she completely heads them.


  2. Hi Andy,
    I’m looking for ideas on how to get my dog to control her enthusiasm to work sheep, which at the moment is causing a lot of problems with the training.
    She is 2 years old, been training for about a year. At the start, not very interested, but now super keen.
    She started inside the training ring, but now moved out into a small field, works better in the open. She flanks nicely (except for the odd slice after a turn), but stopping is awful, going through the full range of ask, tell, insist. If I try and block her, she will dodge past me given a chance.
    When I do manage a stop, I flank her immediately so she does not associate stop with losing the sheep.
    In addition to this, other behaviour which needs sorting is her pulling like a train on the lead as soon as we walk into the training ring. I have to constantly be saying that’ll do, lie down, here to me to get any sort of hesitation in her pace. We walk back towards the gate, back towards the sheep, but very little effect on her.
    And finally, calling her off the sheep. She seems to sense when training is ending and just starts to do big wide flanks. She will change direction when asked, but keeps well out of my reach. Wont stop or even slow.
    She is much better with a large flock, but she has to be able to work with a small group.
    She has great potential, but unless I get that stop, training sessions just end up in carnage.
    She can do a good short outrun, goes a good distance behind the sheep, but turns in on the balance point and walks up (more like runs up) way to fast, setting the sheep going fast, her going faster.
    Any ideas on how to curb this enthusiasm would be very much appreciated

    PS, next to sheep, her favourite thing is a small ball. I can throw that ball, send her after it and call for a lie down, and she will plough up two farrows with her paws as she comes to a stop, so it’s not like she does not know what the command means.

    1. Your dog sounds perfectly normal for an untrained sheepdog, Nigel but you’re trying to move on much too fast. I strongly recommend you watch ALL of the tutorials in the “Where to Start” category so that you have a much better understanding of what’s normal, what’s not normal, and what to expect from your dog.
      Get her back in the training ring, MAKE her stop, and MAKE her listen to you.
      She’s certainly not ready to work a flock, and being the clever monkey she is, will use the greater distance it puts between you to her advantage.
      Back to basics is the way to go, but watch ALL of those Where to Start tutorials first.

  3. Good Evening Andy , Jim and Sandy , I found your conversations really interesting !!! Andy convinced me that sharing our experiences is the way forward and he is right!!! After trying to learn this job for over a year now I am realising that it is so full of contradictions different situations , frustration on the part of the handler and the dog !!! In my short experience I have been under the impression that the dog knows what it’s doing and then in a different situation everything goes completely wrong !!!! At the moment our 2 year old girl is having to deal with mud , rain , goats that have given birth other ones that are heavy pregnant . She has tried to stop working a couple of times , understandably none of us like hard dirty work!!!! But I have by coming back to Andy and Gill,s vidéos and understanding them better it works!!!! Even with the up’s and down’s having a Bordercollie on our Farm was the best thing we ever did and with the experience that we are gathering. They will always be part of our Farm …. Eddie France

    1. Hi Eddie,
      Thanks for your note! Our 9 Month old who is the dive and snack and flank at incredible speeds without thinking – today gave me a wonderful surprise- After asking her to lie down- which she did- I called her off with a “That’ll do” and for the first time- she actually came! I need to keep an eye on the sheep and her as the combo can change instantaneously. The video Andy showed of the strong dog in slow motion was great- when her played it real time- that is exactly what I have here. I was very encouraged after seeing his video in real time. This is such a learning experience and so much fun! I hope you are enjoying your experiences as much as we are! Have fun! sandy

  4. Greetings Andy
    Thank you for your comments- they are helpful. Our purpose is to learn so we appreciate the constructive criticism and advice. Both dogs are Border Collies from good herding lines (unrelated but both dogs’ dam/sire are proven trial dogs and good farm workers – reason we selected their breedings)
    The lambs are about 10 months old but are small in size. They are smart enough to stand behind me and not break out and run from the dog. We have watched your videos but obviously need to watch a few more times! We will go “back to the drawing board” and watch these again. In fact, I don’t think we ever watched the training pen videos – some how we must have missed them! The game plan you laid out will be helpful. Thank you for your advice- we wish you many more happy successful days! Keep the great instruction videos coming! Enjoy your day! sandy

  5. We are really enjoying your videos. We have a 8 Month old who is VERY excited. We have begun to work her in a 60′ by 80′ area with 4 or 5 small lambs. She is flanking but tries to run in for a snack occasionally. Right now we are waiting for her to get tired before giving a lie down command- I think that is working but we are open to suggestions if there is another way. I don’t get in front of the sheep yet so i don’t know how her balancing might be. She is very young so we are not putting pressure on her. I also have another dog who will be 2 in a couple months, She was doing very well- very thoughtful but suddenly will not walk up on sheep. She has not been injured by them or scared as far as I know. I do not pressure her a lot either. She was fine , would walk up to their heads very carefully but now will flank versus walk up- She was really a great dog for her age but I am confused and not sure how to bring back my brave little dog. I went back to balancing hoping that would give her confidence as the sheep follow and do not turn on her. I also have her on a lead and walk up with her to sheep that are confined and wait for her to relax but that does not seem to be helping either. What can I do? I don’t want to ruin her or mess her up. (Hopefully it is not too late!) Thanks! We are all ears and eager to learn as much as possible. Thank you- for the tutorials- they are very helpful. It is nice to see when things are not perfect- gives us hope! have a wonderful day! sandy

    1. It’s great to know you find the tutorials useful, but there are a number of points in your message which concern me. Please understand that my replies are intended to help you.

      [We have an 8 Month old who is VERY excited.]
      That sounds perfectly natural for a young sheepdog. Is she a Border Collie, or something else? When you say she’s excited, I presume you mean around sheep?. Watch “How Can I Slow My Dog Down?” to find out how to minimise the dog’s excitement when she’s working.

      [We have begun to work her in a 60′ by 80′ area with 4 or 5 small lambs]
      That area is more than twice the size we recommend for starting a dog off. Watch “The Training Ring (1 & 2) and “The Training Area” to find out what you should be doing to help get control of your dog.

      How small are the lambs? Very young lambs are hopeless for training. I would suggest they should be at least six or seven months old.

      [She is flanking but tries to run in for a snack occasionally. Right now we are waiting for her to get tired before giving a lie down command]
      You must discourage her from gripping the sheep.
      If she’s flanking around the sheep (in the right sized training area) you should be able to keep her out wide and discourage her from coming in. When she’s out wider, it’s easier to stop her. The longer you allow her to do her own thing, the more it will become a habit, and much harder to change later.

      [I don’t get in front of the sheep yet so i don’t know how her balancing might be.]
      You must try to stop the dog on the point of balance – on the opposite side of the sheep from you.

      [She is very young so we are not putting pressure on her.]
      How much pressure you put on a dog should depend on how it behaves with the sheep, not its age. You must protect the sheep.

      It seems to me you’re doing very little other than just letting the dog have some fun! You need to be far more proactive to show this dog what’s acceptable and what’s not. If you don’t do it now, it will get harder and harder to change later.

      [I also have another dog who will be 2 in a couple months, She was doing very well- very thoughtful but suddenly will not walk up on sheep.]
      Something has happened to make this dog fear the sheep. She was probably attacked by one. You need to take all the pressure off her. When you describe her as “very thoughtful” I can’t help thinking she’s always been a bit timid with the stock..?

      [I also have her on a lead and walk up with her to sheep that are confined and wait for her to relax]
      This won’t help. Watch “Sometimes Nice is Not Enough” to find out how to help your dog regain her confidence.

      It sounds as though you have a couple of potentially very useful sheepdogs which just need their training programme modified a little and they’ll be great! I strongly recommend you watch all of the tutorials in the “Where to Start” category. They will help you to understand what’s going on.

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